KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
SERIES: 94th meeting. The Cowboys hold a 53-40 advantage. Dallas has faced no team more than Philadelphia (93 times) and has defeated them more times (53) than all but two teams (Arizona -- 55 and Washington -- 55). Dallas and Philadelphia have met in two divisional playoff games and an NFC Championship Game. The Cowboys won 11 consecutive games over the Eagles from 1967-1972, marking the second-longest win streak over one opponent in club history. Dallas and Philadelphia have combined to win 21 NFC East Division titles.
2006 RANKINGS: Cowboys: offense 6th (5th rush, 15th pass); defense 5th (9th rush, 8th pass). Eagles: offense 1st (7th rush, 1st pass); defense 21st (14th rush, 28th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME: WR Terrell Owens' return to Philadelphia has been the story of the week, but he creates a very real problem for the Eagles once the game starts. Philadelphia expects to get CB Lito Sheppard back from an ankle injury, but nickel corner Rod Hood is likely to be out again with a heel strain. That leaves Joselio Hanson as the team's nickel back, and he is likely to be exposed far more than he was against Green Bay on Monday. The key for Philadelphia's defense is generating a strong pass rush and preventing Cowboys QB Drew Bledsoe from going through his progressions. If the Eagles can pressure Bledsoe, they could force a few key turnovers. Philadelphia hopes the swelling in RB Brian Westbrook's knee subsides enough to allow him to play. Correll Buckhalter is a capable backup, but he fumbled twice Monday night and Westbrook's versatility puts a strain on opposing defenses.
FAST FACTS: Cowboys: Bledsoe has thrown at least one touchdown pass in nine consecutive games. The franchise record is 16 by Troy Aikman. ... TE Jason Witten needs three receptions to become fourth tight end in franchise history with 200 for his career. Eagles: QB Donovan McNabb has thrown 138 passes since his last interception. His career 2.17 interception percentage is second all-time behind Neil O'Donnell (2.11). ... Are 18-5 (.783) when Westbrook has more than 100 yards from scrimmage.
PREDICTION: Cowboys 27-23
PERSONNEL NEWS: Cowboys:
--TE Jason Witten has not been himself through three games. He has nine catches for 97 yards with no touchdowns. Don't blame the addition of WR Terrell Owens. Blame Witten. "He's been dropping the ball," Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said. "That's not like him."
--TE Andy Thorn was signed to the practice squad. Thorn was in training camp with Philadelphia, and the Cowboys are trying to pick his brain for tips about the Eagles.
--LB Greg Ellis knows the Eagles will try to take advantage of him with mismatches on RB Brian Westbrook, but Ellis said he is ready. He said he understands he won't be covering Westbrook one-on-one; he just has to cover him for a while and know where his help is coming from.
--K Mike Vanderjagt will handle field goals against the Eagles, but Cowboys coach Bill Parcells remains undecided whether Vanderjagt will handle kickoffs as well. He is a liability on kickoffs, so the Cowboys could use Shaun Suisham instead.
--RB Julius Jones is playing better, according to coach Bill Parcells. "I think he's a little more patient," Parcells said. "I think he has a better understanding of his plays and how to read them. He is not just running on instincts now." Jones has five career 100-yard games.
--CB Lito Sheppard still is listed as questionable for Sunday with an ankle sprain, but he practiced for the second consecutive day Thursday and is expected to play. He's missed the last three games.
--CB Rod Hood probably won't play Sunday. He's listed as doubtful and did not practice Thursday. He has a heel strain.
--WR Donte Stallworth continues to be listed as doubtful for Sunday with a hamstring strain. Stallworth played last week but was a last-minute scratch the week before. It's unlikely he'll play this week.
--CB Joselio Hanson, who started last week when both Lito Sheppard and Rod Hood were out, likely will be the nickel corner Sunday against Dallas since Sheppard is expected to play.
--RB Brian Westbrook didn't practice again Thursday and continues to be listed as questionable with a sore knee. The Eagles remain hopeful he'll be able to play Sunday.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
Center Andre Gurode will play Sunday against the Eagles.
Gurode, who was stomped in the head last Sunday by Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, practiced for the first time Thursday. He went through all the drills and should be ready to go, according to coach Bill Parcells.
Gurode received 30 stitches to repair seven lacerations. Although he still has occasional headaches, he no longer has blurred vision.
Haynesworth was suspended five games by the NFL. He will not appeal his suspension. Gurode also has decided not to press charges.
No decision has been made on whether Gurode will file a civil suit. That may not come until after the season, when Gurode, who will be an unrestricted free agent, tests the market.
He was having his best season by far. If he slips now and doesn't get what he expected in free agency, look for Gurode to go after Haynesworth for financial compensation.
"We have only focused on what's been in front of us, and that was the charges," agent Kennard McGuire said. "He's moving forward."
Haynesworth spoke publicly Thursday for the first time since his suspension. He said he will get anger-management counseling and spend time working with kids during his time away.
"Albert Haynesworth is known for something despicable, not for being a good player or the face of the NFL," he said. "I still don't know why I did something like that."
Terrell Owens is drawing all the headlines as he gets ready to make his return to Philadelphia on Sunday to face his former team.
But Owens is just one of the challenges facing the Eagles defense in this important early-season NFC East battle. The Cowboys may have the best wide receiver-tight end trio in the league in Owens, Terry Glenn and Jason Witten.
"I wish it was just T.O. that we had to worry about," defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said. "But it's not. We're going against a lot of (good) skill people.
"There's going to be different combinations we have to do on T.O. and Glenn and Witten. You've got three skilled people as far as the passing game. So, it's not going to be easy. But there'll be some things we'll do."
Johnson will have starting corner Lito Sheppard back. Sheppard missed the last three games with an ankle injury. But he won't have No. 3 corner Rod Hood, who will miss his second consecutive game with a heel strain.
Hood will be replaced by Joselio Hanson. An NFL Europe alum, Hanson started Monday night against the Packers when both Hood and Sheppard were out.
"Hanson did a nice job last week," Johnson said. "I was happy with him, and he's playing better every week. Of course, getting Lito back, we'll see how the game progresses, how we're going to attack."
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